Second Hand Souls, Where Rescue Animals are Movie Stars!
There are many animal actor agencies in the entertainment industry. What sets Second Hand Souls apart, however, is that it’s a non-profit, and the animals are rescues.
Founder Susan Guillot was “born an animal fanatic,” and started working at the San Diego zoo as a teenager. Over the years, she’s trained everything from big cats, to horses. Her current crew is quite the menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, livestock abandoned on her ranch, and various Exotics – including a zebra, rescued from a roadside zoo. “They’d deprived him of nutrition to keep him small. Now with exercise and supplementation, he’s almost normal size.” Still, Guillot’s quick to point out that while a zebra may look cute, they are not a horse. “Wild animals are hardwired a certain way and their survival thing can be easily triggered. Zebras are quick to react to a threat. Their solution is to run away but they will violently kick and bite in order to do so.”
Guillot started working exclusively with rescue animals about 10 years ago. She begins training as soon as they come to her, so they can adapt to big sound stages with lots of distractions. “When I’m working on set, I might bring an anti-social dog and crate them with a shroud over the crate, then walk them around after. It helps enormously with socialization. And the big advantage of crate training is that they see the crate as their own place, not a punishment.”
Guillot keeps some of her Second Hand Souls rescues as part of her permanent pack. Others she places into forever homes. Adopters of these rescue pets get that ‘brag’ factor of their new animal companion having been seen on say Animal Planet. Or Modern Family! Plus it helps spread the idea of real rescue throughout TV and film.
One of her current canine stars, Bob the Olde English Bulldog, certainly had a rough start in life. Guillot was looking for a white Chihuahua for a photo shoot, so headed to a Lancaster shelter. There, she was told about a sick bulldog they were getting ready to euthanize. “He had no hair and maggots in his ear but he stood up and wiggled with such happiness. I had to bring him home.”
A few months ago she was working at Lancaster shelter with Cesar Milan on Rescue 911. “I brought Bob. They couldn’t believe how good he looked. Some even cried!”
Hopefully Hollywood’s commitment to using rescue animals will continue to spread, as the popularity of adopting, rather than shopping, increases.
It’s certainly a wonderful way to give second hand souls a second chance.
Check out Second Hand Souls on Facebook.